The Ryokan: Reworked and refined
Hotels with a Difference #02
Ise-Shima is best known as the home of the Ise Grand Shrine, one of Japan’s most sacred sites. Hardly surprising, then, that the Aman group has built its latest masterpiece there.
In 1988, Indonesia’s Adrian Zecha launched Aman, a top-class hotel group that sought to offer its clients the villas of their dreams. The brand opened its first project, Amanpuri, on the island of Phuket in Thailand. It now boasts high-end boutique hotels in over twenty countries, with sites across Indonesia, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Turkey, the United States, France, Greece and, more recently, Tokyo. Whilethe architecture of each resort remains inspired by the distinctive local traditions that surround it, the hotels share a focus on calming simplicity. Aman’s magic touch guarantees a stay that combines relaxation, well-being and culinary delights, all in settings that are both warm and welcoming, with each private villa enjoying its own spa and restaurant. After Aman’s project in the Japanese capital, the group chose to build Amanemu in the heart of the Ise-Shima National Park of Mie Prefecture’s Osaki peninsula. The number of guests that the extensive site can accommodate has been purposely kept low, with just twenty-four bedrooms and four two-bedroom villas available. Amanemu is also the first of the brand’s resorts to boast a spa fed by natural thermal springs. In addition, guests can enjoy sports facilities, yoga studios, a dining room and breathtaking views from the relaxation room, as well as the chance to unwind on the hotel’s flare-lit terrace. It’s a contemporary retreat that gives visitors plenty of opportunities for tailoring their stay to their own preferences. While not overly nostalgic, each of Amanemu’s buildings recalls Japanese villages of old, offering Japanese guests a comforting reminder that they remain protected by their forebears’ deities. Kerry Hill, darling of the Aman group and the resort’s architect, has successfully combined the formal beauty of Japanese homes and temples from a bygone age with the distinctive sophisticated modernism of Aman hotels to create a setting like no other.
Despite its unique character, Amanemu offers the trademark first-class welcome that all Aman resorts provide. If you’re visiting Amanemu by train from Tokyo or Nagoya, a luxury Lexus, the jewel in the crown of the Japanese car industry, will be ready to greet you at the hotel’s nearest station in Kashikojima. When you arrive at the resort, you’ll be served Japanese tea while enjoying a friendly chat with a member of the reception team, as your bags are taken directly to your room. All you then have to do is decide how you want to make the most of your stay, with staff discreetly on hand to provide assistance. The engawa, a room traditionally found in old houses, offers you a view over Ago Bay, known for the countless pearl-farming rafts that it harbours and the ama fisherwomen who free-dive into its waters. On the desk of your private lounge, a welcome card and origami model await you. This is hospitality, Japanese-style – omotenashi – accompanied not only by the setting’s pure, fresh air and the thermal spring that each bedroom has access to, but also, and most importantly, its peaceful, almost divine, surroundings, which are sure to make your stay unique and unforgettable. Wend your way between the cherry and wild yamamomo mountain-plum trees that grow across the site in a buggy driven by a member of staff. All that remains is for you to make the most of the large bathing pool that your hosts have thoughtfully provided – its natural supply of warm water making it the only one of its kind in the region – or an onsen hot-water bath, available upon request. You can also enjoy a range of dishes that the restaurant prepares from locally sourced fresh produce including rock lobsters and Matsusaka beef. After the sun sets, clear moonlight helps to illuminate the resort. Unwinding beneath a starry sky in the hotel’s thermal springs or spa is pure luxury. The last word in relaxation, its name fusing the Sanskrit for ‘peace’, aman, and the Japanese for ‘shared joy’, nemu, this is a resort that demands a visit, offering its guests the opportunity to escape deep into the heart of a land that is truly blessed by the gods.
Amanemu is the first Aman resort where every room and villa has access to onsen natural thermal springs, as well as boasting an infinity pool and a 2,000㎡ spa.
Address: 2165 Hazako, Hamajima-cho, Shima-shi, Mie 517-0403
Tel: +81 5 9952 5000 (for reservation: +81 599 52 5006)
Price (as of Autumn 2016): Suites from 90,000 JPY; Mori Villa from 350,000 JPY; Sora Villa from 400,000 JPY; Nagi Villa from 450,000 JPY
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